The Gujarat government informed the Supreme Court on Monday that it would pursue the death of 11 convicts whose sentences in the 2002 Godhra train burning case were commuted to life imprisonment by the state’s high court.
A bench made up of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala also set a hearing date for the bail requests of other defendants in the case for three weeks from now.
It was requested that the attorneys for both parties submit a combined chart with information about the actual sentences that had been given to them and the time they had already served in jail.
“We will be seriously pressing for award of death penalty to the convicts whose death penalties were commuted into life imprisonment (by the Gujarat High Court). This is the rarest of rare cases where 59 people, including women and children, were burnt alive,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Gujarat government, told the bench. “It is consistent everywhere that the bogey was locked from outside. Fifty-nine died, including ladies and children.”
The law enforcement official provided details, stating that the trial court had condemned 11 inmates to death and had given life sentences to 20 others. According to Mehta, the High Court lowered the death sentences of 11 convicts to life sentences and upheld a total of 31 convictions in the case.
Mehta said that the state government has filed an appeal challenging the commute of 11 convicts’ death sentences to life sentences. He noted that a number of the defendants had appealed the High Court’s decision to uphold their convictions in the case.
Two of the defendants in the case have already been granted bail from the top court. A decision in the case is pending on seven additional bail pleas.
The bench noted that a large number of bail applications have been filed before it in the case and said: “It has been agreed that the AORs (advocate-on records) on behalf of applicants along with advocate Swati Ghildiyal, standing counsel for Gujarat, shall prepare a comprehensive chart with all relevant details. List after three weeks.”
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